Have you ever compared prices on a product or service? If you’re like many people, you answered, “yes.”
In fact, there’s a whole industry that exists to help people comparison shop wisely on big-ticket purchases like cars, televisions, and computers.
But in the B2B world, there is no Consumer Reports devoted to helping buyers compare. It’s simply too large and fragmented of an industry.
Yet, buyers still compare, of course. Ultimately, they want to know if the product/service will help them solve whatever problem they have. Today in the B2B market, there are two great tools to help them decide.
E-books and case studies.
They work because statistics show that people consume, on average, 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.
They also show that 84% of people read online reviews and seek recommendations from peers.
What could be a more compelling review than a well-written case study that shows how the product helped someone just like you?
If they’re looking for the “best website companies for dentists,” for example, and your company specializes in dental websites, then you will do well to offer an e-book on best practices for dental websites. Maybe it’s titled something like “7 Things Every Dental Website Needs to Attract 30 New Leads a Day.” Then, it outlines the top things high-performing dentist websites have.
Pair that useful e-book with a few great case studies that profile happy clients, and it makes sense for a B2B prospect to send your information around to colleagues. You’re a natural choice.
Do you see how sharing educational material can make the provider of that information look like the logical, trustworthy expert?
But you might be wondering what role an e-book plays versus a case study when you’re looking at them for lead generation?
What Is an E-book and How Does It Generate Leads?
The simplest definition is that an e-book is content arranged together for convenient download. Usually, that download is “gated,” which means it requires an email address to receive it.
The most basic e-books are a collection of themed blog posts put together into a pdf format. Best-selling author Seth Godin has been doing this for years.
There is usually a Table of Contents. As to length, they vary. The e-book could be as little as 15 pages to well over a hundred. They’re usually professionally designed and often have snazzy graphics and charts to illustrate their points. They have links to take the reader deeper into a specific topic.
They can be an introduction to a topic, such as, “A Guide to Marketing Techniques for Privately Owned Dental Practices.” Or a specific slice of a subject, as in the dental website example above that will show all the components of a top-performing dental site (along with proof like screenshots).
You can see how the e-book builds trust and credibility.
What Is a Case Study and Where Does It Feature in Lead Generation?
A case study is a shorter, highly-targeted piece of content that demonstrate how your client’s product or service solved the problem of a customer. Using a problem/solution format, it shares the story of a successful customer and can range from as short as 500 words to a more in-depth story at 1,200 words (generally two pages, designed).
Again, it’s likely to be highly designed, formatted, and hidden behind a form requesting your email address.
The case study could be a profile of one of your dentists whose business has doubled since launching her new website (that your company created).
In essence, it’s similar to a long testimonial, providing social proof of the product or service effectiveness.
How Companies Use E-books and Case Studies
By now, you see the value of e-books and case studies in the sales cycle. Let’s look at another example of how they can help a prospect decide.
A B2B SaaS (Software as a Service) owner needs to find a solution to their web marketing problems.
They sit down at the computer and do what anyone would do and start googling. If they don’t know where to start, they probably start with “How to improve SaaS web marketing.” If they’re ready to narrow down their search, they might look for “best price on SaaS web marketing tools” or “best SaaS web marketing companies.”
They’ll probably read a few blog posts and maybe watch a video or two. Those are typical behaviors for people looking for introductory information. But when they’re getting closer to making a purchase (or making a recommendation), that’s when they’re going to compare.
And when prospects get to the comparison stage of buying, they want to read e-books and case studies. These give them something to share with colleagues and proof to support their recommendations.
In other words, they’re important pieces in the decision-making progress.
How Much Can You Make Writing E-books and Case Studies?
Now that you know how important e-books and case studies can be, you’re probably wondering how much you can make writing them. In my experience, it depends significantly on the size of the company. But some general guidelines are $2,000-$7,000 for e-books and $1,200-$2,000+ for case studies.
That’s because these guides and success stories are a critical part of the sales process. They help prospects evaluate and feel confident a product or service can help them, before they commit to a purchase. As a result, the companies that use them will pay handsomely.